Senators propose COVID-19 Bias and Anti-Racism Training Act

Senators propose COVID-19 Bias and Anti-Racism Training Act
The COVID-19 Bias and Anti-Racism Training Act would support bias and anti-racism training for individuals involved in COVID-19 testing, treatment, vaccine distribution, and response. (Source: KPLC)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KFVS) - Several U.S. Senators have introduced legislation to ensure health providers and others receive bias and anti-racism training in reference to COVID-19 testing, treatment, vaccine distribution and response.

The COVID-19 Bias and Anti-Racism Training Act would provide funding for hospitals, community health centers and other healthcare agencies to receive the training to improve COVID-19 care and support communities of color hit hard by the pandemic.

The funding would be for 2020 and 2021 fiscal years.

The following is a breakdown of the bill:

  • Create a $200 million grant program for hospitals, other health care providers, state, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments, medical and other health professional training schools, and nonprofits to establish or improve bias and anti-racism training programs for health care providers treating COVID-19 patients and for individuals participating in other response efforts, like contact tracing.
  • Prioritize funding for entities in communities with high racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, ICU admission, and death rates.
  • Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to collaborate with health care professionals, policy experts specializing in addressing bias and racism within the health care system, and community-based organizations to develop requirements for evidence-based, ongoing bias and anti-racism training.  

According to Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both sponsors of the measure, Black and Latinx individuals across the country are three times as likely to contract COVID-19 compared to white individuals, and are nearly twice as likely to die from the virus.

“The awful truth is that here in Illinois—and across the nation—Black and Brown Americans are more likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans,” said Duckworth.

Senators Durbin and Duckworth state Black Illinoisans make up 15 percent of the state’s population, but account for 30 percent of coronavirus deaths.  Latino Illinoisans make up 17 percent of the state’s population, but account for 31 percent of cases.

These disparities are a stark reminder of the historical inequities in our health system,” Durbin said. “This legislation will help improve bias and anti-racism training for health care professionals and ensure that all communities are able to receive culturally competent care.”

Along with Durbin and Duckworth, this legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Click here to read the proposal.

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